The following people are responsible for bringing forth the incredible amount of information made available for this web site. Many hours of time and travel have been spent to hopefully make this site entertaining and informative. Most importantly, we hope to provide an opportunity to document memories and facts of schools and the towns which supported them.
Dave Nanninga – Site Creator
I was raised in Mineral, Illinois, a school on this site. I was born in 1962, the year after Mineral High School was deactivated. I did attend the school for grades 3 – 5 as part of the Annawan School District. I grew up listening to my grandmother, Ula Morey, and my uncles Ben and Ed Morey as well as my mother Nancy Nanninga, talk fondly of their great memories of Mineral High. I was proud even at the young age of attending grade school in the former Mineral High School building where the trophy cases remained filled with exhibits from the many athletic accomplishments attained by the kids who attended there. I remember stopping occasionally to read the inscriptions on the trophies and imagine what it would have been like to play for my hometown Mineral High School Leopards. Sadly it was decided in 1973 that a new grade school building would be erected in nearby Annawan. The Mineral School building would serve no more as an educational facility.
In May of 1974 the Mineral school building closed for good, taking with it not only the prideful feelings of those who attended there, but also a measure of town pride and heart from Mineral. This was a very hard and heartwrenching experience for the alumni and townspeople who had worked so hard to make the school successful for so many years. For several years after the school was closed and the doors locked, I remember each day how the bell would still ring, set by a timer as it had been for so many years.
In the year 2004, I completed research which culminated in the induction of all six Mineral High School District Championship basketball teams into the Bureau County Sports Hall of Fame. This ceremony was hosted by Bureau County Republican Newspaper Sports Editor Kevin Hieronymous. Though Mineral is a town of 275 residents, nearly 450 Leopard fans clad in the school colors of green and white packed the auditorium to cheer on their hometown heroes. The crowd was gracious and thrilled when 21 of the then 25 living members (16 were deceased) of these teams made their way to the stage. As an added treat five of the cheerleaders of the era led the crowd in one last rousing rendition of the Mineral Fight Song, “On Ole Mineral”. What an incredible night to cherish.
This brings me to the reason for this web site. If Mineral folks responded in this excited manner, why not provide a venue for those of other towns who lost their high schools? In fact why not provide a venue for all alumni who had their school close for one reason or another? Hence the web site was started in February of 2005 and has seemed to gain steam ever since. The positive feelings and memories it has evoked for several supporters of the site have been priceless to me.
I have no previous experience or training in the process of developing a website. I began the site in January of 2005, never realizing the enormity of this project. To date (January of 2021) we have added nearly 1,200 closed high schools from Illinois to the Glory Days website.
The Glory Days website has received state-wide attention. Several interviews on radio as well as several newspaper articles have been completed in support of the site. In addition, several items on high school sports message boards have been written in support as well. The website has entertained visitors from all 50 states in the United States and 20 different countries.
If you come from a town which lost its high school or are an alumnus of a deactivated high school, I hope you take the opportunity to complete a form acknowledging your school. Personal memoriesare what made your school important to you and the town. I am sincerely hopeful you will be willing to share them with others so your school can be remembered for eternity.
Thank you for your support of the Glory Days site!
Beau Spencer – IF he grew up in the 70s
I graduated from Annawan High School in 2000. I work in radio in Macomb, Illinois where I have been employed with Prairie Radio Communications (K100, 104.7 WLMD, AM1510 WLRB) for 2 1/2 years. My career in the radio biz began in 2001 at WGEN-AM in Geneseo, IL and the former WHHK “The Hawk” in Galva. I currently serve as Sports Director for the 3 radio stations in Macomb as well as WKXQ in Rushville, IL. In addition, I am co-host of the K100 morning show. 2005 was a big year for my career as my station won small market radio station of the year (K100), as well as winning best local morning show, and firsts for a community event in which I “Freeze For Food”, and a broadcast of the local National Guard troops leaving town for Iraq. I also serve as a sports correspondent for local newspapers in Macomb. I began work with the Glory Days website after meeting Dave on the PJStar Message Boards and brainstormed ideas in getting something started. I am more of the “legman” with my poor computer skills (haha!). I really enjoy spending time on the highways of Illinois tripping onto small towns and getting that great shot of a dilapidated high school (which is truly saddening in some cases). I am truly looking forward to learning more about the history of these and future schools added to this site!
Cody Cutter – Sterling H.S. football manager
Even though I was born after most of the schools on this site were deactivated, I get told by my peers that my knowledge of the high school scene, present and especially past, is second to none, but I don’t like to claim that. I am originally from Rock Falls, and moved across the Rock River to Sterling, graduating from Sterling H.S. in 2005 while being a part of one of the classic high school rivalries, that of Sterling and Rock Falls High Schools, on both sides of the spectrum.
My love for the high school glory days came about while researching some of the high schools in my area. I was enthralled about the 1950-51 Hillsdale High School Boys Basketball team (see Hillsdale High School on this site) being the only athletic team in school history to win IHSA hardware. I wonder where that District Championship plaque is located today?? Upon a visit to Tampico High School (also see Tampico High School on this site) I stumbled upon the Trojans’ football field and track oval and could feel an experience of what it was like to come from a smaller school and represent the community well in their athletic endevors. Mind you, this is coming from an alum of Sterling High School, a much bigger school than Tampico.
After working with Prep Sports Online and the Sterling Daily Gazette/Dixon Telegraph, I started the Northern Illinois Sports Beat website, which covered high school sports in Northern Illinois. After 10 years of operating that website, I rejoined the Gazette/Telegraph in 2014. I joined this website shortly after it’s creation and am excited to be learning more about everything. I graduated from Sauk Valley Community College with an A.A. in Mass Communication in 2010. While at Sauk and Highland Community Colleges, I was Sports Editor for the school newspapers and won awards for my writing (so I guess you can call me an award-winning journalist). I reside in Sterling.
In times where state funding for education is hard to come by, especially here in Illinois, many of the school closures are unexpected and sometimes wrong – albeit in some cases it’s good thing. Unfortunately for most of these schools, there is not a public record that not only shares statistics, but the personal and memorable moments behind one’s time at their school that is not around anymore. This website was created to share the memories, stories and experiences of one’s most important time of their lives: The years of early adulthood, the Glory Days, of high school in Illinois.
Kev Varney – Senior Class Photo
Class of 1980 – Ottawa Marquette HS
As a former sportswriter and sportscaster, I have developed a passion for researching information for the Illinois High School Glory Days website. I was a writer with the Ottawa Daily Times along with reporting for radio stations WCMY/WRKX in my hometown of Ottawa from 1985-1991. I witnessed the closure of high schools inMarseilles, Mazon-Verona-Kinsman, and Odell, along with the deactivation of Cornell first-hand. The closing of Marseilles had special meaning to me, since I had gotten to know a number of people associated with the school and that it was a city of 5,000….. which is unusual since most of the schools you see on this website have populations that are far less in their home towns.
Later on as sports director of radio station WZRO in Farmer City in 1994, I had the dubious honor of broadcasting the final boys’ basketball game for Wapella High School. As with any closure, I experienced the feeling of pitting neighbor versus neighbor when the news came out. Even today, some people in Wapella still wish they had their beloved Wildcats playing in their home gym, nicknamed “The Thunderdome.“
Since that time, I have retired from the radio industry, but continue to keep a close tab on prep sports by following the action in Central Illinois while maintaining a job as a service representative at an insurance company.
As a history buff, I am aware of other schools that closed their doors for financial considerations and agree that the stories of these schools should be told in more than just the newspapers and in special features on radio/television, now that the Internet has become a viable media source. In order to preserve what history there is left,my feeling is that we need to remember those schools that existed before the consolidations of the late 1940’s as well as those that have closed their doors through this very day.
As a Mineral graduate stated on the home page, the high school was the center of activity of the small towns, serving as a meeting place for various reasons. I am happy to be involved with the Illinois High School Glory Days website. I have found a website that has combined two of my favorite topics, history and sports. I hope that we can tell the story of your high school, as well as your hometown, as accurately and as thoroughly as possible.
Richard Soseman – Little League All-Star
I am a native of Campbell’s Island, Illinois, a small island in the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities. It never had a grade or high school, as far as I can tell, although the “white man” has been living there off an on for 200 years. I am the product of Catholic Schools: grade (St. Anne ’77), high (Alleman ’81), college and graduate school (Marquette U ’85 & ’87) and seminary (Mt. St. Mary ’92). I was drawn to this site by my interest in history, small towns, and sports. I noticed, also, that a few closed Catholic High Schools from Western Illinois were not yet listed, and so began some contribution. My mother grew up in Henry County, and yes, I also have relatives in Atkinson, Mineral, Annawan, Kewanee. I lived in Princeville for 10 years and was pastor of the Catholic Church there. My Peoria office for almost 15 years was located in the former Convent of the Academy of Our Lady, which closed in 1988. I enjoy following the Princeville Lincoln Trail games against schools I have known my entire life. In January, 2008 I was appointed to the Vatican, so will follow Illinois sports, as well as help with these pages, from some distance!
The small town schools which have closed over the years, public and private, represent the people of a certain time and place.Each month passing takes us farther from those people. It is vital that we keep some record, and this site does an admirable job at keeping that memory alive.
History, photography and writing have always been interests of mine, so I enjoy hanging out around here. I am fascinated by the architectural features of some of the closed buildings, and what they tell us about the people who built the structures. Seeing the decrepit high school at miniscule LaRose, photographing the gymnasium at Rutland, seeing how quickly a grand high school building can fall apart at Newman, finding out about “terrible” ball club at Andover have been fascinating, and this enthusiasm is hopefully transmitted to those who visit the website.
That enthusiasm for a forgotten high school truly exists, in the heart of an alum, in the spirit of a student of history, in a fan of the glory of sports. I’ve seen it a few times when I have talked about the site. Friends and family have shared memories. A few times they have broken into a long neglected fight song, eyes glowing with appreciation of a now discontinued alma mater.”
Sadly Monsignor Richard Soseman passed into eternal life on December 09, 2020. Monsignor Soseman was a wonderful person and friend. He was also an avid supporter of the Glory Days website. Thank you, Monsignor Soseman, for your incredible service to God and for your assistance with this website. You are truly missed.
Monsignor Soseman Mass Card 12/09/2020
Monsignor Soseman Mass Card 12/09/2020
Phil & Betty Shadid
Glory Days Site Author & His Wife
I was born and raised in Springfield, IL, attended McClernand Public Grade School, St. Joseph’s Catholic Grade School, and Lanphier High School. I come from a family of 11 (I’m the youngest). I carried a newspaper route in downtown Springfield for several years, worked in my brothers’ book store, and then had a 33-year career with the Springfield Post Office. Also worked at a local mailing service company for 11 years.
My beloved wife and best friend Betty passed away in February 2014. We had a great life together sharing love of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She enjoyed cooking and baking (well known for vegetable soup, “Ra-ta-2-E” and pies). The first thing she cooked for me was vegetable soup. We got married soon after! She was an avid reader, gardener, traveler and sometimes casino winner. Her maiden name was Betty Jean Ralph, born and raised in the north end of Springfield, baptized at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, where she was a member her entire life. Graduated from St. Joseph’s Grade School and Glory Days member Springfield Ursuline Academy. Was a nurse for 28 years. She was pleased that I wrote the story of her Alma Mater, and always encouraged me to research the old schools and to not give up my hobby in the future.
I’m proud to say that my research produced entries into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame for the 1941 Feitshans High School basketball team and the 1937 St. James Trade School football team. Another proud moment was when Homer “Buster” Bartholomew, legendary coach/teacher/principal of the early 20th Century was inducted into the Chatham Glenwood Hall of Fame in 2010. I’ve always been interested in history (my best subject in school; to the detriment of other subjects!). Through research and visits with various people I’ve made several new friends who were happy to share their memories of their old schools. That’s why I enjoy the Glory Days so much.
SVHS Class of 1966
I grew up across the street from the Stillman Valley High School. The original building was built in 1927, when my dad was a sophomore. As a child I enjoyed sitting on the front porch watching the high schoolers. This was before the days of the school cafeteria, so the kids would, in good weather, eat their sack lunches on the grounds, and then pair off, or as a group walk up the street in front of my house. I admired the girls saddle shoes with rolled Bobby sox, the popular draw string purses and cardigan sweater sets. Being a farming community, many of the guys wore the blue FFA jackets. I couldn’t wait to be in high school. (these “kids” are in their 70’s now)
In the 1940’s Stillman had absorbed some of the students when the Kishwaukee and Kings High Schools closed. They also accepted the high school students of Davis Junction, part of Holcomb Grade, Lindenwood Grade, Kishwaukee Grade, Kings Grade, and Paynes Point, a one room school in a tiny community closed about 1958.
I remember watching the first athletic field being built. Football was new in town. The one room schools were closing and being auctioned. My dad and I attended many of these auctions. He was a local history enthusiast with a new camera. Luckily he took photos of many of them. Our 1879 grade school, with two grades to a room was bursting at the seams, so an addition with 4 more classrooms and a basement cafeteria was built in 1954. Kindergarten, which lasted only a few weeks in the spring, was moved from the church basement to the school basement. I was in that first class.
The cafeteria was a wonderful thing. It not only provided a nutritious hot lunch with milk to the students, it became a community meeting place. It was a place for the newly formed Lions Club to meet, many fund raising dinners were held there, in addition to vision and hearing tests, and polio shots. We watched movies there, and the inaugural of JFK and John Glenn come back.
In the late 50’s, Monroe Center HS closed, and they joined the Stillman district. This time it was the high school that was bursting at the seams. A large addition was built, with a beautiful gym and a multiple level music room. The cafeteria was relocated to the former gym, and the home ec room featured turquoise St Charles kitchens! I graduated there in 1966.
A new and larger high school was built in the mid 70’s and the former high school building became the Meridian Jr. High. Later, the 1927 building was razed, and a new addition was built.
As I look at the photos on IHSGD, I see many schools much like mine. I hear the basketball game noise, the bands playing, and see the drivers Ed car go slowly down the street. Many changes are not made without controversary, but things do change. It was said the Monroe Center annexation was harder on the parents than the kids. Over the years, the wounds have healed. The fledgling football program has become a 4A powerhouse team with several state championships. A very large and respected FHA chapter has faded away, but the FFA program is going strong. Academics have always been a priority. It’s a school to be proud of. Some of the kids even got married!
Luckily, Stillman Valley has grown. It has tripled in population since the 50’s. Sadly, downtown has been hit hard. Most of our retail businesses, including 2 nice grocery stores have faded away. The bowling alley and drive in are gone. The memories linger tho. I am so glad our school survived, but I do miss the old days.
I am just a small town girl. I have 4 sons and 1 daughter. Luckily, several of them are interested in local history, and will sit and listen to me ramble on or stop and turn their car around so I can take a photo of a tumbledown school building somewhere.
I was a customer service rep at Kable Fufillment in Mt Morris for 15 years. My particular position allowed me to be on the Internet as long as I did my job. I had been looking for info on the former schools of Illinois, and one day I saw an article about IHSGD, and it was just what I wanted! I had time to do research, and loved finding schools. I even had photos to share. The less than 4 year schools all closed in 1948, that makes their students around 80 years old now. None should be forgotten.